It's a bog
deal: Flooded Lake Ronkonkoma home razed
By STACEY ALTHERR, NEWSDAY
March 10, 2010
Mother Nature has won the Battle of 21 Charles Ct.
A wrecking crew Wednesday razed the one-story house,
nearly five years after rising groundwater from the
adjacent Lake Ronkonkoma bog began flooding into its
rooms and started the owners on an odyssey that would
cost thousands in mortgage payments, taxes and fines
even as the house was rendered unliveable.
Jan and Mark McDonnell's house, co-owned with her
parents Marie and Eddie Dondero, was flooded almost
continuously since rains in October 2005. It has since
Jan McDonnell called the flattening of the house
"bittersweet." Her mother dabbed her eyes as the
excavator crane's claw tore through the roof of the
house on a beautifully sunny - and dry - day.
"We were going to retire here," said Marie Dondero, 78,
of the house at the edge of the natural habitat that
they bought in 1986 in a foreclosure. They paid $57,000.
"I would have loved to have lived here," said Dondero,
who now lives in Eastport.
The McDonnells actually only lived in the home for a
short time. They rented it until it was condemned in
2006, Jan McDonnell said.
While their tenant lived there, and in the years since,
the house and some others in the neighborhood have been
plagued by backed-up cesspools, mold and sometimes as
much as 2 feet of standing water that soaked the kitchen
The tortured history of 21 Charles Ct. began during the
heavy rains of October 2005 that raised the water table
in the area and began regularly flooding the home. In an
effort to save it, they began placing sandbags around
the perimeter to protect it from the bog.
In March 2007, the state Department of Environmental
Conservation fined the owners for interfering with the
encroaching wetlands with the sandbags. The family
eventually paid a $500 fine. Meanwhile, the family
continued to pay the monthly mortgage - they said they
still owe $70,000 - and the $4,000 in annual property
taxes. After the house was condemned, they said they won
a reduction to $400 in taxes.
Suffolk Legis. John M. Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset)
introduced the resolution to buy the home in 2007. It
passed unanimously but was vetoed by County Executive
Steve Levy, who said he feared the precedent would
unleash a number of such requests that the county would
then have to honor even in situations beyond their
control. The legislators overrode the veto.
The county has agreed to pay $130,000 for the land,
though the sale won't go through until the property is
completely cleared and the DEC has inspected it because
of its location adjacent to wetlands, Kennedy said.
"Anytime we get a piece of property of that price for
parkland . . . I think it's a good thing," Kennedy said.
What's more, he added, after watching as the house was
demolished, it was important to help this "family
ravaged by groundwater flooding."
The estimated $10,000 excavation, arranged by Kennedy,
was done for free by Gramercy Wrecking and Environmental
Contractors of Westbury, whose owner, Vincent Parziale,
grew up in nearby Lake Grove.
The owners of five other houses on Charles Court and the
neighboring two streets damaged by flooding that began
in 2005 will be helped by a $187,560 Federal Emergency
Management Agency grant secured by the Town of Smithtown
that will pay to lift utilities out of the flooding zone
and fill in their basements. FEMA will pay 75 percent of
the cost, and the town and homeowners will pick up the
rest. Sanford said the town will pay design and
As for No. 21, once the debris has been removed, the
site will simply disappear into the bog.
The demolition of Giants Stadium got started Thursday
when a giant metal claw attached to a crane started
taking bites out of the cement helix at one of the four
gates around the 34-year-old facility.
Clouds of dust drifted in the air as concrete and rebar
poked through areas where the concrete was ripped away.
The $10 million-plus demolition project will take about
four months with the seats and sod being sold as
memorabilia. Much of the concrete is being used to fill
a 14-foot hole where the field is currently located.
About a dozen construction workers at the adjacent new
stadium that will be home to the Giants and Jets watched
the demolition from an open landing, some taking
pictures with cell phones.
The beginning of the end for the stadium that played
host to more than 1,600 events and had more than 70
million people pass through its turnstiles was lonely.
There were no fans lining up for the so-called final
The only person watching who was not a member of the
media or a construction or demolition worker was Brian
Moran, a 50-year sheet metal worker who was sidelined
with a broken foot. The Carlstadt native who now lives
in Hasbrouck Heights worked on the renovation of Giants
Stadium, the building of the new stadium and the ski
slope on the Xanadu project in the Meadowlands sports
"I hunted here with my family when I was 10, 40 years
ago," Moran said of the ground on which Giants Stadium
was built. "It was all marsh. We used to launch our
canoes from where Stiletto's go-go bar is located and
had our blinds in here."
Vincent Parziale, the chief executive of Gramercy, the
wrecking and environmental contractors taking down the
stadium, said that Giants Stadium cannot be imploded
because it is too close to the new structure, which is a
30-yard pass away.
The construction started at Gate B, which is closest to
the yet unnamed new stadium, because the spiral in Gate
B overlaps with the concourse on the new stadium.
Parziale said once the area is cleared out, the
demolition crews will start cleaning out Giants Stadium
from the inside and then taking down the building in
sections, working from high to low.
Parziale said it was hard to see an old stadium come
down, noting he was a Jets fans. A split second later,
he noted he was a Giants fan, too.
"There is no emotion," he said. "I am working to making
new memories in the new stadium."
Frank Amicizia, Gramercy's vice president, said the
demolition job was special.
'We're demolishing a piece of history," said Amicizia,
whose fondest memory of Giants Stadium was the first
time he took his son to a game. "We're just happy to be
the ones doing it, especially being a (Westbury) New
The new stadium will seat 82,500 fans, including 9,500
club seats and 222 luxury suites. It will be the NFL's
A Bon Jovi concert in late May will officially open the
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Vincent Parziale President and CEO - Gramercy Group, Inc.
Vincent Parziale is President and CEO of Westbury-based Gramercy Group Inc., one of the leading demolition company’s in the tri-state area. The company generates $33.5 million in annual revenue and employs more than 200 individuals.
Parziale has achieved tremendous success. A sole-proprietor and self-financed entrepreneur, Parziale started his career in the waste management and disposal industries in 1995 with the formation of Parziale Waste Systems, a company that focused on residential clean ups. During that time, he owned one truck and was an independent owner and laborer. That same year, his company ventured into the roll-off industry and supplied refuse management for job sites in the commercial industry. By 1996, his business expanded and was servicing 25 accounts, employing five laborers and owned and operated three additional roll-off trucks. A year later, he purchased Park Carting. This new venture included three trucks, 25 dumpsters and more than a dozen accounts including Safelite Auto Glass, Grucci Fireworks and Sweet & Low. His next acquisition was Graz Recycling, giving him an opportunity to run four additional trucks and 65 dumpsters and gross a profit of $20,000 a month. His clients included Bio-Botanica Vitamin Manufacturers, Nature’s Answers, Crest Hollow Country Club, Jung Sun Laundry, Village of Roslyn Housing Authority and American Storage and Transfer.
Parziale’s determination and strong entrepreneurial drive has enabled him to take his company to the next level. In 1998, he contracted with Island Chip & Mulch of Smithtown to run their tree yard waste recycling facility.
A person who cares about his community, Parziale volunteers his time to the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation, and, in 2006, will be honored as the organization’s Man of the Year.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University.
Turnkey Solution’ Locks in Gramercy Growth
By Adina Genn, Long Island Business News
Friday, May 12, 2006
When Vincent Parziale and his partner Frank Amicizia purchased Westbury-based demolition and environmental remediation company Gramercy Group in 2000, they had one phrase in mind: Turnkey solution.
In Gramercy's case, the approach means both landing demolition projects and handling environmental concerns,
including asbestos abatement. Doing both enables clients to retain one source for the entire process, rather than hiring separate firms for the demolition and the remediation.
Demolition and remediation go hand in hand, said Parziale, 32. Most old buildings have asbestos.
The strategy has enabled Gramercy to grow from zero sales into the $33.5 million enterprise it is today. The combination of demolition and remediation appeals to owners and developers who want to complete a project seamlessly, rather than starting and then stopping a job to call in specialists if asbestos is discovered, noted Mike McVetty, a CPA and partner of the construction practice group at the Garden City-based accounting firm Margolin, Winer & Evens. It's a trend McVetty expects will be increasingly embraced by demolition companies.
Bigger companies will have to do it in order to grow, he said, and to win large contracts, You're better off having both.
The partners have always thought big, keeping an eye on the future and environmental integrity. For instance, rather than create a company from scratch, in 1999 they purchased Gramercy Asbestos Consulting because it had a current New York State asbestos remediation license.
To bid certain government jobs, you need five years consistent asbestos licensing, Parziale noted.
Both Parziale and Amicizia had the relevant industry experience. Parziale had already started up and sold a waste management and disposal company. And Amicizia, once a client of Parziale's, had demolition and remediation expertise. Amicizia had taken down high rises and industrial plants, Parziale said.
That expertise has enabled the company to participate in high profile projects, including the Queens West waterfront development, which upon completion will feature residential units, waterfront parks and commercial space.
It's also enabled the company to land projects as far away as Puerto Rico. The partners learn about many good customers through environmental consultants with whom they have established relationships, according to Parziale.
To build that kind of rapport, a company also needs highly skilled workers. Gramercy's employees are trained in the removal of asbestos and other hazardous materials, including lead and mercury.
Depending on the project load, the company can employ as many as 600, averaging about 200 full-timers at any given time and pulling from local unions for operating engineers, building laborers and asbestos, lead and hazardous waste removal laborers as required. Gramercy keeps a core group of 28 full-time project managers - 20 specializing in demolition, eight in remediation. And by having licensed environmental workers on staff, Parziale said he has the ability to safely move staff from job to job as needed.
The company finds additional revenue by recycling steel, metal, concrete and brick, and engineering it into a salable product, such as a new foundation for a client.
It's good for the environment, and helps clients for future construction, Parziale noted.
Going forward, the company has its sights on bigger projects. Up until recently, the company targeted work ranging from $500,000 to $5 million. Thanks to new bonding worth $50 million, with the capability of getting larger bonds as needed, the company will now pursue projects worth up to $50 million, Parziale said.